Monday, December 26, 2011

December 26

Happy Boxing Day!

Does that mean I have to herd sheep while Dierdre, my dog, feeds and waters them?

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Recent and Current Weaving

I designed this yellow, white, red, and black table runner based on a traditional Croatian folk pattern.

Below is the fabric on my loom now. I'm weaving organic, natural-colored cotton wash cloths using a Linen Weave pattern.

Friday, September 23, 2011

How Could I Not Buy Them?

I was at a Goodwill store last week and did my usual survey of the books and "craft" area. No yarn - just as it's been for the last several months. Drats.

Then I glanced at an endcap as a I turned down an aisle some distance away. There were two bags of yarn! Hmmm, one contained skeins of pink yarn. I don't care much for pink. But I do knit for other people, and I sell some of my knitting. Maybe I should take a closer look. Balls of light blue yarn filled the other bag. Light blue is really not my thing. I prefer darker, deeper colors, but, then again, my caveat above still applied. I picked up both bags.

The first held five skeins of Debbie Bliss "baby cashmerino":  55% Merino wool, 33% microfiber, 12% cashmere! The price tag said $4.99. Eight balls of Louisa Harding "Grace - Silk & Wool" filled the other bag:  50% Merino wool, 50% silk. This bag was priced at $3.99.

It would have just been wrong to put those back on the shelf! It won't hurt me to knit with pink and light blue yarn. I'm sure I can make people happy with items made from these incredibly soft yarns. How could I not buy them?

This is the scarf I've started knitting with the blue yarn. Did I mention it's Merino wool and silk? It's amazing - the things I'll do for others.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Dierdre's New Bed

I sewed a bed for Dierdre last week. I stuffed it with old, worn-out clothes: Mark's clever idea. Mark and I think it's quite nice, but Dierdre won't use it. In fact, she won't even touch it unless we insist.

I guess she's never had a bed before.

I put it on the floor near our bed where she likes to sleep, and she laid in another spot that night. Mark wondered if she was avoiding it out of disinterest or out of courtesy. Maybe she thought it was ours, so she politely stayed off it.

Right now it's on the floor near my desk; so is Dierdre, about a foot from the dog bed. Oh, well.

We're gently encouraging her to use it, but if she really doesn't want to, we won't insist. Perhaps this winter she'll find it appealing.

Front and back of the new bed.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Well, That Was Unexpected

The president of the Mountain Spinners and Weavers Guild in Prescott called me Sunday morning and said the president-elect, who was supposed to be installed in August, can't take the office. She asked if I would consider being guild president for the coming year. I think my response was, "Huh," (a la Malcolm Reynolds for any Firefly fans out there).

I was first VP for two years a while back, and I've been the newsletter editor for about three years. I had given no thought to being president, though.

But, yikes, I said yes. We had an emergency online election, and, guess what, I'm going to be president of the MSWG next month!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Spiffed Up Website

I finally added a professional shopping cart to my website. Yay! It's going to take me a little while to get used to the new format, but I really like the features. It offers all sorts of shipping options to customers and actually calculates the shipping cost correctly all the time, unlike only occasionally as PayPal did. The "search" feature is cool, too.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Sheep Depredation

Sheep love roses and rose bushes. Unfortunately. They destroyed one rose bush completely, but the one pictured below is holding its own with beautiful red roses above sheep level.

I picked up a broken juniper branch on the way home the other day. It was fresh and covered with needles. Mark set it aside with the intent of removing the greenery the next day and then cutting the branch into firewood-size pieces to season for next winter. The sheep saved him the trouble of stripping the needles.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Sheep Shearing Pen

Nine sheep sheared; eleven to go. I'm getting there. I think each of the experienced (sheared in previous years) sheep think "Wow, I'm glad I'm not on that shearing stand, but...hmmm, I sure would like to get this 15 pounds or so of wool off me."

Below are pictures of my make-shift shearing pen. The pictures aren't great; it was closer to twilight than I realized when I took them, but you can get the idea.

I attached a couple of large 6-foot gates to create two sides of the enclosure. The third side is one wall of the barn. The final side is composed of three 3-foot gates. It's not elegant, but it works. I have to keep the other sheep away while I'm shearing. Although each and every one of them doesn't want to be on the shearing stand, half of them want to be petted while some other sheep is on it being sheared. That situation is very inconvenient.

The metal shearing stand has a head stanchion with a chain the loops behind the sheep's head to keep it stationary. Since this device is not foolproof, I also put a collar or halter on the sheep and fasten it with a leash to the shearing stand to prevent a fast getaway, in case the sheep decides to bolt. Such rebellions have been known to happen, resulting (before the leash and collar) in me chasing a partially-sheared sheep around until I finally catch him or her to finish the job. I bought a sheep halter (it came in only one size), but it turned out adult Cotswold rams' heads are too big for it. I need to find out if super-size sheep halters are available or if one made for another species would work. If anyone has a suggestion, let me know.

The shearing stand has a hydraulic hand jack attached. I can raise and lower it (and the sheep) to a comfortable shearing height.

Friday, July 1, 2011

How to Catch a Sheep--At Least Sometimes

Raising sheep is such a quiet, bucolic past time. You feed them and make sure they have plenty of water. You sit back and enjoy watching them graze. Until you have to catch them--then sheep raising can turn into a circus, and you get to play the role of clown and lion-tamer simultaneously.

Sheep are mighty agile creatures, and, wow, are they fast. Mark has suggested we try to get a couple rams recruited as football half-backs. Both of us, along with some of our family and friends, have become exhausted and bruised catching sheep. I've taken a spectacular spill or two, as well.

 I have learned some sheep-catching techniques over the years, though I've not been successful with all of them. I tried one of the methods Ron Parker suggests in his book The Sheep Book (which is a great book, by the way, and is available free online). He says, "If sheep refuse to cooperate, grab them around the chest under the front legs. As they try to run away from you they will walk into an upright position on their rear legs. Then just sit them down. Don’t you lift them up—let them do it." (p. 42) Well, so far the only animal I've successfully used that technique on was Rousseau, our yellow Lab. He was certainly surprised at the result!

The best method I've found so far is to catch one of the sheep's back legs and pull it away from the ground. I can certainly understand how a good shepherd's crook would help to do this, since you have to get pretty close to the sheep to grab a leg, and sheep seem to be psychic when it comes to knowing which individual I'm after. I'm lucky if I can get within 10 feet of the sheep I need, although everyone else seems to be content to hang out with me.

Once I get hold of the back leg, I need to be careful to avoid being kicked. Even though the sheep is balancing on three hooves, it still has enough balance to kick out with the leg I'm grasping. At this point, if I need to do something quick, such as giving an injection, I grab the front leg on the same side of the sheep as the back leg I'm holding (this task is not as easy as that sentence makes it sound) and topple the sheep to the ground. I then lean and/or sit on it while giving the injection.

If I want to shear the sheep and therefore need to place it in the shearing stand, I keep hold of the captured back leg and back the sheep up into the shearing pen and onto the stand. The sheep is so intent on the process of hopping backwards on three legs, it doesn't fight me much, and I can usually get it to the shearing stand with little stress to it or me. Then I get to shear, but that's another story.

Ah, yes, the peaceful pastoral life of a shepherd.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Spinning 101

I taught a beginning spinning class yesterday. I was tired afterwards! Beginning classes are challenging for the teacher as well as the students, especially such a hands-on subject as spinning. Two of my students, a mother and her 12-year-old son, had never sat at a spinning wheel before. The third has tried to spin on and off over the years but has never mastered it.

The class was fun. The new spinners got to try Ashford, Louët, and Schacht wheels. We only worked with wool, but I gave them different colors of roving, so their yarns had color as well as extensive texture variation. I showed them samples of alpaca, angora, Cotswold wool, Merino wool, qiviut, hemp, cotton, naturally-colored cotton, and silk fiber and yarn.

At the end of the afternoon, they wound off their yarn and took home their first skein of handspun yarn.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Canine Psychology

I enjoy trying to figure out dog psychology. I'm sure dogs would laugh, if they understood my conclusions, but, hey, I try anyway.

I often compare Dierdre's actions with those of our previous two dogs, Rousseau and Dreamer, both Lab mixes.

Today Dierdre accompanied me to the gate to take out the mail (as usual). I realized as she stood there, inches from the open gate as I came back in from the mailbox, that I never worry about her trying to bolt. She doesn't ever try to escape, unlike the Labs who took pretty much every opportunity to sneak out any open portal.

That's not to say Dierdre doesn't go through the open gate sometimes, but when she does it is with calm deliberation. She saunters out, clearly implying she has every right to do so. She'll investigate nearby bushes, the trash barrels, etc. and sometimes ambles further afield than I would like, but it's always with the attitude that it's natural, that of course she should be doing this, with nothing furtive about it. And when she comes back in, usually at my insistance (we don't allow our dog to wander loose), again it's with an air of virtue because she's Dierdre, she's entitiled to do these things.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Wool Washing & Tomato Plants

I had quite an audience today while washing wool. With the wind, I thought it was on the chilly side, but my spectators (heavily furred and wooled as they are) hung out in the shade.

Dierdre watched attentively from her lookout under the deck. About a dozen sheep lounged under the cedar tree, most surveying me with interest, including Herbie, whose fleece I was washing.

While the wool soaked, I repaired part of the garden fence that came down over the winter. I wish Dierdre could have helped; I could have used an extra pair of hands, and Mark wasn't home. I'm sure she would have tried, but pulling on woven wire fence with her teeth seemed a bad idea to me.

I finally bought a couple tomato plants at the farmers' market yesterday: Silver Fir Tree, a Russian heirloom variety, and yellow pear. I haven't planted them yet, but I sure hope the weather continues to warm. It got down in the 30's for a night or two last week.

The wool I just washed is still drying, but the pictures below are from the same fleece.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Prescott Highland Games

I attended the Prescott Highland Games last Saturday as a vendor. I also demonstrated spinning with great success. It's always fun to do so. A fair number of people have seen spinning wheels but very few have observed them in action. People are astonished at both the simplicity and the complexity of the process: in my hand I held wool, and a few moments later, it had become yarn on the wheel's bobbin. To many of them, it's almost magic.

Dierdre made it very clear she wanted to go with me to the Highland Games. She jumped into the back of the truck and sat there while I loaded it.

Unfortunately, she had to stay home. It would have been too complicated to take her. For one thing, they had sheep herding contests, and she definitely would have felt she should be in charge (oops, make that participate).

Below are some of the items I wove for the event. The first scarf and the bags are MacColl tartan. The second scarf is a Robertson tartan.

Sunday, April 24, 2011


Scout is pretty smart. (Whenever I make statements like this, assume they are followed by "for a sheep.") Just like his mother, Clare, he's inventive, a good problem solver, and one of the first to get into trouble. In fact, clever and trouble-prone are probably synonymous when referring to sheep.

So when I fed him yesterday, it wasn't too surprising to turn around and see he had a wire tomato cage stuck on his head. It didn't appear to bother him much, though. I had to insist he stop eating in order to pull it off him, and as soon as I freed him, he went right back to the hay.

What do you call a sheep who gets his head stuck in a tomato cage?


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

More Sheep Tales

When Mark and I got home the other day, we saw sheep scattered about the upper section of the property. It was close to 7:00 p.m., well past their dinner time, and they had gone foraging.

I was driving, so Mark got out and opened the gate. As I pulled the car through, several sheep baa-ed and approached the car. By the time Mark had latched the gate, the sheep had blocked the driveway. He yelled at them to move. He shooed them. He waved his arms and yelled some more. They stared at him and then looked back at me and baa-ed. Apparently they weren't going to let me out of their sights until I fed them. Of course, that wasn't going to happen anytime soon, if they didn't get out of the way.

I called to Mark and suggested he let Dierdre out of the house. She'd move them! So he unlocked the front door and called her. She ambled out a few steps, looked at him, looked at the sheep, and started back into the house. Gesticulating, he urged her to go herd the sheep. She stared at him and didn't move.

I stuck my head out the car window and called Dierdre. Her response was immediate: she raced down the two porch steps and into the middle of the flock. In less than a minute, the driveway was clear, the sheep were running toward the barn, and Dierdre was looking at me proudly, a job well done.

Poor Mark. The sheep ignored him, and the dog wouldn't obey him. Dierdre likes him, but she's definitely chosen me as her person. I had thought the sheep came first in her eyes, though, but it turns out I hold that lofty position.

Last summer Mark fed the sheep a couple days when I wasn't feeling well. Dierdre always goes with me to feed them, so Mark tried taking her along. She went out onto the deck, laid down, and watched him walk to the barn. She calmly surveyed him while he got mobbed by hungry sheep, showing not the slightest interest in helping. He learned how valuable her assistance is, since I don't get swamped by sheep anymore. Twenty or so large, strong sheep who are intent on grabbing the hay from your hands can easily knock you over, and they don't care if they step on you once you're down (believe me, I know).

Although she really likes her sheep, apparently it's the team of Dierdre and Diane that truly makes her happy. I feel honored.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Such Silly Sheep

I've been so busy lately that I've neglected my blog. However, the sheep have been busy, too, providing all sorts of fodder for writing.

A few weeks ago I woke up in the middle of the night hearing a lamb baa. It sounded like she wanted her mother. I tried to go back to sleep, hoping the situation would sort itself out, but the baa-ing persisted. After about 20 minutes I surrendered, got up, put on shoes and a jacket, grabbed a flashlight, and went outside. Dierdre accompanied me, of course.

The night was bright--the moon almost full. Dierdre and I walked toward the barn, where the crying lamb had retreated. Just as we neared it, the lamb and several adults appeared from the far side of the building and approached us. The lamb stopped baa-ing, so I figured her mother was part of the group. We turned around, returned to the house, and went back to bed.

In the morning, we went out to feed the sheep as usual. (You notice how I speak in the plural; it's pretty much a given that Dierdre accompanies me where ever I go!) I heard that same lamb crying again. Hmmm, this wasn't good. And, sure enough, I quickly discovered why: there were half a dozen sheep trapped in the hay storage room, the lamb's mother, Frejya, among them.

Now this was bad for several reasons. One, the incarcerated sheep had eaten part of my stored hay, which meant I was going to have to buy hay sooner than I expected--definitely an unwanted expense. Two, the almost half-full bag of COB (corn, oats, barley, and molasses) was stored in there, and it had disappeared. That meant they had eaten close to 20 lbs of COB--definitely not good. Three, they were hot and thirsty from being stuck in a small room with only a single window to allow their hot and humid breath to escape. And four, they had removed storage container lids, torn open two trash bags full of empty feed bags, and pulled loose from the bales a fair amount of hay, and all this debris had collected in front of the door.

Between the mess and the crowd of sheep, I couldn't get the door open! Not even an inch.

I grabbed a shovel, put it through the open window, and tried to push some of the junk out of the way, but it didn't work; I couldn't get enough leverage to budge the compacted hay. I thought about climbing through the window, but I was going to have to stand on a chair or something to reach it, and the area in front of the door slopes steeply. I figured that was too risky.

What to do....And meanwhile the sheep inside the hay room were baa-ing to be let out. The rest of the sheep were loudly complaining because I wasn't feeding them, and Dierdre was jumping and barking, upset because she couldn't get into the hay room to reach the sheep she knew were in there. Oh, and I was supposed to be leaving to drive to Phoenix within the next half hour. My stress level was definitely rising.

Then I suddenly thought of a neighbor boy who sometimes feeds my sheep for me. At 13 years old, he could probably get through the window without needing a step up. It was kind of early in the morning, but I called him anyway. His mother said he'd be right over. He and his older brother showed up about 15 minutes later. One climbed through the window, while the other handed him the shovel I'd been trying to use. He shifted the debris in a few minutes and got the door open just wide enough to admit (or exit) a sheep.

Now, being sheep, they of course wouldn't move. They'd been whining about being stuck in there, and now they wouldn't budge, despite some forceful pushing from the neighbor. Dierdre to the rescue! She charged in and very quickly convinced one of the rams that the dog-free outside was much preferable to the Dierdre-dominated inside, and he bolted out the door. Being flock animals, the others followed at once. Hmmm, five of the six culprits were rams....

After that, every time I fed the sheep I checked and double-checked the door was secure.

A few days later my feed guy delivered more hay. As he reached the barn on his small tractor, pulling a trailer piled with hay bales, I caught up with him. We looked in the hay room, and what did we find? Yep, a room full of rams, with the door wedged shut again and the same scenario: loud unhappy sheep in the hay room, rowdy, hungry sheep outside, and a frantic dog wanting to reach the miscreants.

This time I had an idea, though. My feed guy pushed a hay bale off his trailer and placed it in front of the door. Using this large and stable "step stool", I climbed through the window, shoveled away the additional refuse the sheep had found, and pulled open the door. Dierdre repeated her how-to-remove-sheep-from-a-small-space maneuver and cleared the room. We unloaded and stacked hay, while the escapees hurried to a water trough; it's thirsty work eating illicit hay.

Since then I've devised a new way to fasten the door, and so far no one has broken in, although I've seen evidence that they've tried. Such silly sheep!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Hey, Don't Eat That!

Dierdre keeps eating the COB (corn, oats, barley, and molasses) I bought for the sheep. Do all animals have a sweet tooth?

I rarely give the sheep COB, but I wanted the nursing ewes to get some extra calories, so I purchased a bag. All the sheep (including the rams who certainly don't need to put on weight) love it, as do the hens. But the dog?

Thursday, March 3, 2011

A Beautiful View

I took this picture on Tuesday, just two days after we had 7" of snow. I'm glad it melted quickly; I'm ready for spring!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011


Heloise lambed yesterday, and we named her baby Marzipan! She is a white ewe, and she's big. Heloise excels at motherhood; she's attentive without being overly worried.

I went out several times yesterday to check on mother and lamb. While I was quietly watching to make sure Marzipan was nursing successfully, Hermes, her father, poked his head through the barn window. I'm sure he just wanted a pat on the head (he's our love sponge), but he made an extremely cute picture peeking in at Heloise and her little one. He's a huge ram, so I'm not surpised Marzipan is big.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011


I think the hen Dierdre laid on is suffering from PBSD--Post Briard Stress Disorder! She's still moving slow and looking kind of groggy. Poor thing. But the hens have always recovered from Dierdre's herding imperative in the past, so she should be fine.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

No Laying on Hens

That's what I admonished Dierdre, our Briard, this morning. We had 7" of snow last night, and this morning is gorgeous: sunny, blue sky, and lots of fluffy snow. Dierdre is having so much fun!

As soon as she went out the door, she dipped her muzzle in the snow and tossed her head up, letting snow fly. Then she went into puppy mode, head down, rear end in the air, wanting to play. (She's about eight years old, by the way.) She ran ahead of me toward the barn, circling back to me every minute or so, to make sure I was aware of how great the morning was.

She wanted to play! But the sheep wouldn't cooperate. All they were interested in was food. While I threw flakes of hay onto the snow, she herded sheep, but none of them shared her snow-loving enthusiasm.

Next she tried the hens, chasing them around the barn and out into the snow. My Americauna hens are pretty good size, but seven inches of snow is just too much for them; they sank half way up their bodies and had no chance to escape Dierdre's enthusiasm. I reached her just as she caught a hen and laid on her. She actually positions her quarry under her chest and lays on the unfortunate small animal to control it. She's done this to small lambs, hens, and a very annoyed Chihuahua. She doesn't want to hurt them, just govern them. I grabbed her collar and pulled her off, and the hen, looking very ruffled and affronted, ran for cover in the barn.

As I headed for the house, Dierdre tried one more time to get the sheep to "play", with, not surprisingly, no success. I called her, and she raced to me, ears and fur blowing, snow flying from her paws. She frolicked all the way to the door. A joyful dog really makes my day; I can't help but feel happy!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Lamb High Jinks

I woke up around midnight and thought I heard a lamb baa-ing. I listened. Nothing. I laid back down and heard it again. This time the dog, Dierdre, barked; she heard it, too.

It sounded like a lamb, but something seemed wrong. Quiet. The wind blew one of the chairs on the deck with a clunking noise. Another baa--from above me? A second noise on the deck and more baa-ing.

Wait a minute; what was going on? Dierdre and I went upstairs, outside, and around onto the deck. There was Minerva's ram lamb, running around by himself on the deck, crying. I looked toward the barn; the rest of the sheep were standing quietly, comtemplating the errant lamb. I have no idea how or why he was on the deck, especially alone.

Dierdre took charge of the situation, rounded him up, and sent him running along side the house, down the steps, and back towards the barn. I returned to the deck in time to see him rush to his mother and start nursing. Minerva seemed remarkably undisturbed by the incident.

Dierdre and I went back in the house. I climbed in bed, mumbled a drowsy explanation to Mark, and went back to sleep.

The deck.

Monday, February 7, 2011

What I've Read during the Last Few Months

Maureen Ash, Death of a Squire
Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice
Annette Blair, Larceny and Lace; A Veiled Deception; My Favorite Witch; and The Kitchen Witch
Alan Bradley, The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie
Kate Carlisle, Homicide in Hardcover
Ariana Franklin, Mistress of the Art of Death
Roberta Gellis, A Mortal Bane; A Personal Devil, Bone of Contention; and Chains of Folly
Lauren Haney, A Vile Justice; A Curse of Silence; A Place of Darkness; A Cruel Deceit; and Flesh of the God
Charlaine Harris, Dead in the Family and A Bone to Pick
Bernard Knight, Crowner's Quest
Shirley Rousseau Murphy, Cat to the Dogs
Sharan Newman, The Shanghai Tunnel
Clare O'Donohue, The Lover's Knot
Philip Pullman, The Ruby in the Smoke
Rebecca Tingle, The Edge on the Sword

Sunday, February 6, 2011

The Meaning of Craft

"...There is an inherent pleasure in making. We might call this joie de faire (like joie de vivre) to indicate that there is something important, even urgent, to be said about the sheer enjoyment of making something exist that didn't exist before, of using one's own agency, dexterity, feelings and judgment to mold, form, touch, hold and craft physical materials, apart from anticipating the fact of its eventual beauty, uniqueness or usefulness."
Ellen Dissanayake, "The Pleasure and Meaning of Making", American Craft, April/May 1995

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Wild Kingdom or Domesticated Ranch?

A visitor took these photos. I think they're great.

 Dierdre on the job.

Mother ewe to the rescue.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Bottle Baby

Sierra has beautiful wool and a great personality, but she is a lousy mother. I've had trouble with her in the past, and this year was a replay of difficulties. She wouldn't let her lambs nurse even though she seemed interested in them.

I ended up giving the little ewe lamb to a great couple who live north of here. They are raising her as a bottle baby (feeding her using lamb milk replacer and a bottle). It seems to be a match made in heaven. They've fallen in love with her, and she is thriving. They've named her little Sierra. Pam kindly sends me updates and pictures. Wow, is she one adorable lamb.

Photos courtesy of Pam Lampson Staples,

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Felted Slippers

I took a great workshop last month on making felted slippers. We began the day drafting patterns of our feet and ended it wearing our slippers.

We used dyed Merino wool roving. I added a little gray curl of Cotswold wool from my own sheep on each of my slippers; you can just see it near the cuff in the first picture.

This footwear is seamless. We applied and felted wool on both sides of the pattern, creating both slippers simultaneously. When the felt was firm enough, we cut apart the two slippers and pulled the pattern out of each.

Then, one shoe at a time, we worked the felt inside and out, shrinking and hardening the fabric. When they were almost to size, we put on our slippers, and a helper finished felting them on our feet. They are really comfortable.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Optimistic Sheep

I really think sheep believe in the power of positive thinking.

If I look out a window before I go out to feed them, I see a sheep, usually a ram, standing, staring at the door. If I wait longer to feed them, there will often be two or three sheep, standing, staring at the door. The numbers increase the longer I postpone feeding time. It's as if they are willing me to come out and give them hay.

They aren't pushy or loud about it. They simply stand quietly and patiently gazing at the house, focusing their energies on getting me out the door.

Who knows? Maybe it works.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

A Snow-loving Dog

Our Briard, Dierdre, loves the snow; she's choosing to stay outside most of the day. The snow gives us an opportunity to discover some of her habits, though. We can track where she goes, how she gets there, and even where she places her paws as she walks. It's amazing how close together her tracks are--she places her feet within a very narrow path as she moves.

I love the center trail that winds around the tree.

Dierdre is a tending dog as well as a herding dog. Tending dogs keep their flocks in a confined space, allowing them to graze, hang out, or sleep only in that limited area. Dierdre tends her flock as they start eating each meal. She runs 'round and 'round and 'round them as they munch their hay. Tending them in the snow leaves a ring of paw prints around the sheep. If someone looked at them after Dierdre and I went back into the house, they'd wonder why I was drawing circles in the snow around my sheep!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Snow and Ice -- Cold and Gorgeous

Wow, we have had some intense weather this week. A major cold front came through Arizona. We got about 6" of snow and had lows in the teens and maybe even colder last night. It's absolutely beautiful, but it's difficult feeding the sheep in this weather, and the hens certainly don't like it.

Dierdre, our dog, doesn't care to be out when the snow is actually falling, although she bravely accompanies me to feed the sheep and to bring in firewood. Once the snow stopped, though, she's been having a blast. She keeps scooping up snow with her muzzle and tossing it in the air and then jumping around me to play. She wants to be outside in the snow, but she also wants to be with me (and I want to stay in the house where it's warm), so she's having difficulty deciding what to do. She keeps encouraging me to go out and play, and I keep prompting her to either stay in or to be satisfied being outside without me.